In concurrence with post #10, few appreciate what is given to them. Perhaps lowering the dropout age to 14 would solve some problems with students who do not want to be in school and disrupt the learning process. If they are out for a couple of years, by the time they are 16 they may appreciate school and realize that they must have an education--and still be young enough to return and not feel out of place.
At any rate, students need to arrive at judgments of values on their own, for there is only so much enabling that can be effective.
We have a significant problem with drop-outs in my state. I think that part of what causes that is the lack of responsibility placed on parents and students and offering too many exceptions that take away that sense of responsibility.
For example, students can now buy back hours that they skipped or missed for various reasons. It's called seat-time recovery which suggests that all a students does in the classroom anyway is sit in a seat; so why not skip school? That's the value that my school district places on our classes.
Students have all kinds of options at my school. They can study on a vocational track which offers great options such as earning welding certificates, nurse's aide certificates, etc.--all for no extra expense to the student (I'm not sure why anyone passes that up).
Yes, I've had students who are in very difficult circumstances--loss of a parent, etc., but they are usually not the ones who drop out of high school. They are the ones who survive despite the odds. Almost all of the students whom I've taught who dropped out do so because they have failed so many classes (usually out of laziness), or because they choose "extracurricular" activities (drugs, relationships, etc.) over getting an education, or because their parents just don't have the courage to motivate them to stay in school.
I disagree that we are unfairly labeling students who don't fit in to our current educational system--there are so many varieties of that system in most areas, that if someone really wants to finish, he or she can do so. Like many other things in American society, the lack of personal responsibility allows many to argue that someone or something else is responsible for their poor choices.
Just to muddy the waters somewhat, are we not unfairly labelling students who don't "fit" the current educational system as dropouts which is going to negatively impact their future? I have worked with adults who have been unfairly labelled or classified as dropouts and have later decided to re-enter education. All have stories to share about how they have suffered because they didn't fit their educational system. Should we look to ourselves as teachers to consider why some students become dropouts?
As is said so well in the posts above, high school drop-outs--in effect--stack the cards against themselves. While there are many programs and opportunities out there for such students, it becomes increasingly difficult to escape the vicious cycle of economic hardship and lowered expectations.
Unfortunately, there are many apsetcs of our culture motivating some students to want to drop-out. The instant gratification of the these decisions, however, is only saccharine-sweet.
I try to understand teen-pregnancy drop-outs and even some other extreme family circumstances; however, when public school is free I generally have a hard time with drop outs. Of course I echo all of the above sentiments.
I also am very frustrated with the tax money that goes into education that so many students waste. Personally, I think we should provide 4 years of free high school. If a student needs more than 4 years to graduate, I think he or she should have to pay for the final classes - just like in college. Perhaps this would solve the number of kids failing classes out of sheer laziness.
In post #7, you mention that some organizations will not take GEDs because they want to see that students "can follow directions" as well as "think for themselves."
This is one of the big problems I see with our current atmosphere filled almost entirely with standardized tests and other norm-referenced things that determine whether someone is successful or not.
These are based on following rules, not on thinking for yourself. We train, just like the military, students to think that there is almost always one correct answer and that being wrong is the worst thing they can do. So we drum out the ability to think for themselves and we do it usually with good intentions.
But it has very dangerous consequences. Ever wonder why the "best and the brightest" from the US system who all want to Ivy League schools and went to work for the biggest investment banks in the land drove the entire country and world into a big, big hole? Why didn't any of them stand up and say "WAIT! These are all based on lies?!?!" Perhaps it is because we taught them very early on (and they mastered it, hence their admission to Harvard, etc.) to follow the rules, to meet other people's expectations, and above all else to worry about their own transcript, their own grades, their own admissions, their own bonuses over everything else?
Just a thought.
Hopefully, they are a dwindling number. I'm sure the other posts have pointed out the improved job opportunities available to grads vs. dropouts. In Florida, teenagers cannot receive a driver's license until they turn 18 if they have dropped out of school. This makes many students think twice before making one of the most foolish decisions of their lives.
There are many avenues for students to take...to say that most students are not served is simply untrue. To say that many students do not work at finding their niche is more accurate. I agree with post #5...there's nothing wrong with expecting excellence from all students, regardless of their career track. Our school offers AP, IB, and higher level coursework for the college bound, work programs and vocational programs which allow students to graduate high school with two-year certificates in many areas including childcare, auto tech, nurses' aide, and many others from welding, electrical, and construction to farming and animal husbandry classes. There is something for everyone in high school. We also have the Middle College for kids who are bored in high school and are looking for a little more freedom. If chosen for the program, they enroll for their junior and senior years at the local community college. They enroll in courses both required and elective to suit their interests and attend all these classes on the college campus. They meet at the high school and ride the bus to and from, unless they have their own cars for transportation. At the end of the two years, they have a high school diploma and 36 hours of college credit.
Just to drop out puts them at a distinct disadvantage for earning potential for the rest of their lives unless of course, they are fortunate enough to have a strong family business to inherit. Even the military won't always take a GED or alternative school diploma...they prefer a traditional high school diploma which proves a student can follow directions, think for themselves, set a goal and work toward the goal...much like many colleges and universities and the workforce.
All the way around, dropouts will most likely end up regretting the decision not to finish high school.
I wish there were more schools like the one described in post #5, we don't do anything like that and I wish we did because we have a huge group of kids that aren't really set up for or interested in going to college but it is the only option.
I think it is a problem all over since only about half the kids that start a college program of any kind finish it and lots of them get partway through and still have huge debts, etc., but no degree. They'd be better off working and getting experience.
The problem, to a large extent, is the way we've tied qualifications to pieces of paper that are, by and large, meaningless. A high school diploma doesn't mean that a kid is ready or not ready to work. A college diploma doesn't mean that someone is necessarily more qualified for a job than someone else. They could very well have spent the previous four years faking it through their classes and drinking their faces off.
But right now you can't get away from that mentality so dropping out is starting a tough road.
I think our school does a pretty good job of offering opportunities for both college and non-college bound students. We have AP courses and Running Start enrollment fr those who know they are university bound at some point, and we have a massive tech and vocational program that gets them exposed to everything welding to agribusiness to CADD. Students who know they aren't college material or interested in it can avoid AP and choose the hands on technical electives that get them towards a career.
Most of them, though, will need further training at a tech school too, so we should get past the idea that high school can provide them with the kind of training they need to get hired straight away, and many of the tech careers still require chemistry, math and English skills. So I don't think we're doing anyone a disservice by pursuing high standards in those areas at least, even with the vocational track students.
Yes it is perhaps more difficult for high school dropouts to achieve, but in fairness, school districts are not serving the needs of a lot of students. In the classroom, many teachers have the perspective that college is the end result of high school. What of those students who don’t want to attend college? This philosophy that college is the next step after high school totally excludes the young man who wants to take over his grandpa’s saw shop or the young woman who wants to get married and raise a family. We not only deny them opportunities to pursue these dreams through their education, we also tell them these dreams are less important because they don’t include continuing education. Changing this paradigm might produce schools that value all students, thus decreasing dropouts.
Totally agree with Post #2.
I think that we would be well-advised to figure out a way to have a track for students who aren't college bound. I wonder if that might not be more likely to keep kids like that in school so that they can at least demonstrate that they are willing to stick to something. (By giving them some classes that would be of more interest to them than the college prep .)
I think they are setting themselves up for a much harder road than they can imagine. The economy is not good. Finding a job is very difficult for people who do have high school diplomas. While you would think that it shouldn't matter for the lower end jobs, employers take into account whether their potential employees have managed to stick with something (school) long enough to show they will stick with the job.
In today's society, high school dropouts might be due to a result of family problems or struggle in school. Students who drop out of high school most likely went through a lot in school if it came to the point where they wanted to drop out. It is always upsetting hearing news about a high school dropout.
High school drop outs are sad because high school is one of the important steps you have to take in your life to go to college and get your life. People who are high school drop outs have probably went through a lot and struggled in school a lot. It will be hard for high school drop outs to find a good job to support them in the future.